Latest News

PwC’s 11th Global Family Business Survey

Friday, 05 May 2023

PwC’s Family Business Survey 2023 comes at a time of great change. The optimism of a post-covid world has been sorely tested by the geopolitical


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A guide to family business succession planning

Friday, 11 February 2022

Succession planning is one of the most sensitive issues, and COVID-19 appears to have concentrated minds in this area.   Topics such as


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Tánaiste and Minister Donohoe launch new €90m fund for Irish start-ups

Thursday, 10 February 2022

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD and the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe TD launched a new


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Family Business Ireland Board & Advisers



Chairman and Director: J.J. O’Connell MBS 


J.J. O’Connell is Director of the Ireland's Family Business Centre of Excellence at the NFB Campus. He is Chairman and Director of Family Business Ireland and Chairman of the Plato Ireland Business Network, Ireland’s premier business network. With over 25 years in practice and with extensive experience he is widely acknowledged as one of Ireland's leading specialists in legacy and succession planning. 

He is a Graduate of the National University of Ireland and holds a Masters Degree in Business Studies. He is a graduate of Harvard Business School International Competitiveness Programme. He is a former international tutor and examiner of the Financial Times Institute UK (Henley Management College UK). He works with a number of leading private and public sector organisations and many family-owned businesses.

He is a strong advocate for family run and owned businesses and of the vitally important role that family businesses play in building and sustaining Ireland's economic landscape. He is an adviser to many of Ireland's most successful business families and works closely with local government and state development agencies. 





advisor 2

Deputy Director: Patrick Humphreys MSc


Pat Humphreys has a proven track record as an energetic, professional Senior Operations Manager and Leader with excellent communicative and influencing skills. He has specialist experience in Lean Management, Supply Chain Management and People facilitation. As a qualified facilitator and trainer Pat has works closely with family owned SMEs to effect successful positive change at the highest level. He is a board member of one of Ireland's largest private transport companies and Chairman of a highly respected Social Enterprise Organization.


Pat holds a Msc from the University of Limerick, Ireland. Pat worked for 22 years for the US family owned multinational Bourns Electronics. He understands the dynamic of the family owned business and the challenges faced by SMEs. He has worked with Owner Managers for over 20 years through his involvement with the Plato Business Network & Family Business Ireland. He is a certified Excellence Through People Advisor and a business mentor of Ireland's local government Local Enterprise Offices.

He is assertive, sincere, dependable, persistent and persuasive.





Dr. James Urquhart

Dr. James Urquhart Ph,D


James is an experienced international businessman, (UK, USA, France,), an academic and Family Business Consultant.


After a career in the Oil and Gas sector, he has lectured in Management at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland and in Family Business at University College Cork winning the Best MBA Lecturer Award in 1999. He was involved in laying the foundation for the John C. Kelleher Family Business Centre at UCC. He later became the Head of the Graduate School of Business and Director of the Centre for Enterprise and Innovation at Dublin Institute of Technology where he lectured and researched on families in business and their internal psychodynamics, as well as working with Babson College, Boston on developments in family governance structures.


His training in family psychodynamics is based first on his MBA and second his Ph.D at St. Andrews on group relations work with the world renowned staff of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations.







David Donegan

David Donegan BL


David is the Managing Partner of Donegans Solicitors, a fifth generation family law firm.


David’s specialised areas as a Lawyer are:

  • Commercial Properties/Tax Specialist Acting as a Consultant to law firms:
  • Special Adviser on the transfer of family businesses from generation to generation.
  • Develops innovative property and innovative financial funds.
  • Designs financial investment products that mitigate risk.

David is co-author of Irish Stamp Duty Law (Fifth Edition) published by Tottels Ireland.





Jan Harte

Jan Harte FCIPD


Jan Harte is a Human Resources Executive and Leadership Coach & Mentor with 25+ years experience. She has an extensive business background in Ireland and the U.S. and brings innovative and best practice solutions to business problems.


Jan is former HR Director with Stryker Orthopaedics, Cork. She is the founder of Jan Harte & Associates, HR Consultant and co founder of The Collins Group, Coaching, Mentoring & Professional Development Consultants.


Her clients include Executives and Leaders in Multinational companies and Owner/Managers in the Family Business and Domestic SME sector. Jan also delivers a number of Plato assignments as Group Leader, FAS Excellence Through People Advisor and Trainer.


Jan is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (FCIPD) and a Member of the Association of Coaching (MAB).





Michael Travers

Michael Travers MBA


Michael is the owner of Travers and Associates: The Company specialises in the SME sectors both in Ireland and in the UK. Their main focus is in assisting the S.M.E.’s in implementing the most up-to-date- management practices in order to turnaround, grow and increase profitability. Their business modus operandi is summarised in their company statement: 
‘Delivering the skills, knowledge, techniques and business / operational tools of the Big Blue Chip organisations to the S.M.E sector’:


In addition to Manufacturing Operations and Engineering qualifications, Michael also holds an MBA in Strategic Management, Change Management, Finance, Mentoring/Coaching and H.R.


Prior to setting up his own management consultancy business in 2006, Michael has held the following multinational positions;
• President of Vernal AG Switzerland; Business Development and M&Acq:
• Vice President of Global Business Operations; Tytex A.G. Denmark:
• Director of Operations Flextronics; Ireland:
• V.P. of Operations Switzerland; Danaher Corporation:
• V.P. of European Operations & Business Development; Lear / Donnelly Corporations:
M.D. Alps Automotive Europe:





Douglas Kelleher

Douglas Kelleher MBA


Douglas Kelleher is an experienced CEO, General Manager and Company Chairman. He has held a number of senior management roles within the electronics industry, including fourteen years as Managing Director of the US owned Bourns Electronics company in Ireland. In a career of over forty years he has held the positions of  Engineering Manager of Irish Dunlop, General Manager and CEO of a French cable manufacturing company and Director of a French company in the electronic sub-assembly business. In recent years he uses his considerable expertise and experience in supporting the development of SMEs, holding positions such as M.D. of PRP, a plastics manufacturing company and Chairman of NSG-Northside Glass the highly respected owned business of the Finn family.


He is a Member of Governing Body of UCC, Chairman of MBA Board of Management having originally graduated as Electronic Engineer from UCC. He is Board member of Gaslink, the independent system operator for the Irish gas industry. He is a former Chairman of the South Cork Enterprise Board and former Chairman of the IBEC Regional Executive. He is a former Board member of Plato Business Network (Cork) and  Plato Group Leader. In addition to all of the above Douglas lectures in Human Resource Management in UCC.


Douglas is chairman of family owned glass manufacturing and glazing company.  





Charles A. Blythe

Charles A. Blythe FCMA MLBCAI


Charles A Blythe is a very experienced Management Accountant and General Business Manager. Charles was a senior Executive Director of Heineken Ireland for many years having previously worked in various Financial Controller roles within Heineken. He commenced his first Managing Director role in 1988. Over the following twenty years he held a number of Managing Director/Director roles mainly within the Food and Drink FMCG sector.


In 2008 he retired from Heineken Ireland as Distribution Director and set up the consultancy company Positive Direction Ltd. He is a former Chairman of the Plato Business Network in Cork and served as a Group Leader on two occasions managing two very successful groups. He has advises and facilitates a number of family business owners and managers to better manage the issue of succession planning and good corporate governance. In this capacity he is a board member of one of Ireland's oldest family owned and purpose built boutique hotels which opened in 1855.


He is widely acknowledged as a very wise tactician with excellent judgement. He has a great ability to make complex situations manageable and actively guide and assist those responsible to achieve wise and efficient outcomes.





Charles A. Blythe

Sinead Mc Carthy


Sinead Mc Carthy is the Senior Administrator of the NFB Campus and Client Manager of Family Business Ireland. She is highly respected by all those who work with her. She supports and facilitates all clients with professionalism, dedication and sensitivity. Sinead first commenced her career working with owner managers as a young officer of the City & County Enterprise Boards in the late 1990's. Having worked in the private sector for a number of years she returned to enterprise development and family business support in 2018.